Pattern Recognition in Human Evolution (Ethnography and #Bigdata)

“Big Data, data mining, and analytics at this point are lightning rods for both the promise of digital technologies and the uncertainty surrounding their implications for the future. (…) In analytic operations, algorithms (statistical computations with clearly defined steps) are central, having attained new significance in searches for meaning in digital depositories. They are involved in sense-making (pattern detection) as well as in meaning-making (pattern building) through existing recognition algorithms and by actively constructing algorithms that will lead to a desired outcome. Typical data mining requires multiple, conjoined sets of algorithms and multiple iterations during which the correct series of steps is determined. Algorithms are a crucial feature of the digital transformation. But it is important to remember that they are not neutral; they have a language and a politics. They incorporate a certain worldview.In analytics, we are dealing with a concatenation of different algorithms whose relationships and assumptions interact and quickly become untraceable. Ethnographers need to understand what kinds of algorithms affect their research and what interests, technical knowledge, and resources drive their construction. Significantly, we often do not know

(from Jordan, ed. “Advancing Ethnography in Corporate Environments: Challenges and Emerging Opportunities”, 2013) 

Published by

Cosimo Accoto

Research Affiliate at MIT | Author "Il Mondo Ex Machina" (Egea) | Philosopher-in-Residence | Business Innovation Advisor |

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